Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 6 episode, "Oathbreaker."
Contributing Editor Tara Bennett digs into this week's episode, written by executive producers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by David Sackheim.
After last week's episode-ending resurrection of Jon Snow, we pick right back up with him breathing the oxygen of the really confused as Davos and Melisandre welcome him back. The long-missed Sam and Gilly show returns and on a boat headed to safety. Dany is returned to Dothraki-land (not as fun as it sounds) and thrown into isolation with the rest of the Khal widows. In Meereen, Tyrion is inventing the world's worst drinking game while Varys is finally up to his conniving ways to root out those funding all of the city's various factions of chaos. In King's Landing, Cersei and Jamie are trying to figure out how to get the High Council to bend to their will. Arya is progressing in her "No one" training. In Winterfell, the magnet for all bad things, we find poor Rickon Stark presented to Volde-Ramsey as a gift from a potential ally. Last but not least, the other Stark, Bran, is continuing to mentally travel with the Three-Eyed Raven into the past and gets a very perplexing look at a seminal moment in his father's life.
The slow fade up from black was a nice way to continue Jon Snow's unexpected return to the mortal coil. Ser Davos telling Snow that his state of aliveness is "Completely f-ing mad" speaks for the audience as we too try to figure what the hell is up. Melisandre reverts to creepy again questioning Jon on what he saw in the great beyond. "Nothing" was obviously not the answer she wanted to hear, but there's more of a spring in her step since "The Red Woman." The entire Castle Black arc this episode brilliantly played the spectrum of emotions. Let's hand it to Tormund and Tollett for landing a dick joke and a humorless Snow joke (respectively) at Jon's expense before the dead was fully off him. And on the other spectrum, watching Olly swing for his crime of betrayal along with Ser Alliser, and the other two, was truly grim. It was enough to make Jon hand over the Lord Commander cloak to Edd, which really had to be done. As Davos wisely said, "Good, now go fail again," Jon Snow is meant for much bigger things and it will be exciting to see how he comes to discover his destiny.
I loved seeing Varys back in the game after what seems like years of him just quipping at Tyrion's side. 'Old baldy isn't called the Spider for nothing, so watching him spin his web around Valla to get her to spill intel about the outside forces funding the city's disruption was a return to form. Considering the ruthlessness of this show, she got away easy with his offer. Meanwhile, watching Tyrion try to jumpstart the universe's most awkward "getting to know you" mixer with Grey worm and Missandei was pure gold.
Wisely, D&D accelerated Arya's training story and indoctrination into the Guild of the Faceless Men this week. Yes, she continued to get every kind of creative bruise from the business end of a stick, but she was able to shift her life story into the 3rd person without skipping a beat so she's earned her peepers back. Assassin Arya is going to be a formidable warrior. The question is how long will she stay in Braavos or will the Stark in her come back out to play?
It was a slow mover in King's Landing this week. I certainly appreciated watching Tommen finally put on his King pants and stand up to the High Sparrow, but that guy is good, kid. You think he can't get you to drink the zealot Kool-Aid? Watch out!
Less impactful was Cersei and Jamie trying to figure out how to get the High Council to listen to them in the slightest. Not even Ser Gregor can incite more than a toot from the elitists at the table. I was waiting for Zombie Mountain to lay down a little scare but Cersei is biding her time for the official rumble to prove her true repentance. It's all necessary to know but wasn't incredibly compelling.
Neither was Sam's vomit-comet reaction to the swelling seas. I'm more than a little tired by the "barf at the camera" trope that every film and TV writer finds super-compelling to keep beating like a dead horse. Sam's "barf-position" is just as hackneyed as every other puke moment out there. The whole bit hit its zenith in Stand By Me, people. Let it go.
Ugh, can the Starks - any of them - catch a break? Rickon's been MIA for ages and the poor kid show back up at Winterfell with a bag over his head as a present for Ramsey Bolton. We just got Sansa OUT of there! Can we hold off on Ramsey mutilating another one of them, for my sanity?
Perhaps the most intriguing morsel of the night was Bran's trip back in time to watch young Ned Stark fight and his posse take on the Kingsguard protecting the Tower of Joy, in hopes of liberating his sister, Lyanna inside. From the way Ned's told it, he wiped out the incredibly powerful Knight. But the truth is that Howland Reed pulled a dirty move so Ned could make the killing blow. Hmmm. The honorable Eddard Stark is a fibber? Want to bet whatever happens in that tower constitutes an even bigger whopper?
Things to Ponder...
If Jon Snow is off to find his destiny, where does that leave Melisandre? She wants to be a player in the game of thrones, so will she let Snow walk or make him take her with him? And what's the cost for Snow's revival? There's always a cost.
The Three-Eyed Raven made a great pronouncement to Bran telling him "You must learn everything!" If Bran needs to know context, what's the next part of the missing mythology that he needs to understand? Will he be able to go back up to the Tower without guidance?
The ex-Khal single ladies weren't as Mean Girls as expected. Dany does need to check herself with that ridiculous title that goes on and on, my friend. My initial thought was the Mother of Dragons might be able to stage another coup but it looks like an upcoming test is going to determine how she gets out of that room.
While this episode felt like it was allowed to breathe more, the bloated number of stories and characters is coming to bear in terms of the pacing of the show. Can the show maintain a cohesive pace with so many disparate stories? Is it lessening your enjoyment if a character or story you love doesn't make an appearance?
What did you think of "Oathbreaker"?